What Are Family Movies and Are They Profitable?

by Dick Rolfe, CEO & Co-founder – The Dove Foundation

The Dove Foundation was started in 1991 by a group of parents determined to pre-screen movies before their families watched them.  We never dreamed 22 years ago that tens of millions of other families felt just as we did.

When we first patronized our local video stores, we were faced with two realities…

  1. The movie ratings didn’t provide enough information about values and tastes to satisfy us.
  2. About one-half of all videos on the shelves had no rating at all, because they were either released prior to the beginning of the ratings system in 1967, or they bypassed theaters and went direct to video.

Most video stores merely alphabetized their titles.  This meant that you could find BAMBI next to the director’s cut of BASIC INSTINCT, since neither was rated and they began with the letters BA.

In 1991, we formed the nonprofit Dove Foundation and began reviewing movies, awarding those that we felt comfortable with the DOVE FAMILY APPROVED SEAL

We were a hit at the video stores and soon 1700 retail locations nationwide were applying Dove Seals to videos to better serve their family customers.

During my trips to Hollywood, I found myself defending FAMILY films against the argument that “Sex Sells” therefore R-rated movies must be the most profitable.

So in 1999, we commissioned our first study – not of box office revenues, but of net profits. The data revealed that G-rated films were by far the most profitable.  This was also re-confirmed in a 2005 study.

For this latest 2012 Film Profitability Study, we selected the 200 most widely distributed movies for each year between 2005 and 2009. We gathered all costs and revenues for a period of two years from the release date to produce the profit. Then, we calculated the average profit per film in each ratings classification (G, PG, PG-13 and R).Average Profit by MPAA Rating

We discovered that:

  • Hollywood produced 11 times more R-rated movies than G.
  • They also released twice as many R-rated movies than PG.

     And yet:

  • The average G-rated film produced 8 ½ times more profit than R.
  • The average PG movie produced 5 times more profit than R.
  • Surprisingly the average PG movie also out-profited the average PG-13 movie.

One reason for such a disparity is that for years Hollywood has misclassified the FAMILY audience.  When you look up movie classifications or genre’ you find the following;

Comedy, Drama, Action, Adventure, Mystery, Documentary, Westerns, Sports, and Family.

We noticed that something was terribly wrong with this picture. FAMILY IS NOT A GENRE’

By classifying FAMILY as a Genre’ is to assume that FAMILIES do not watch Comedies, or Dramas, or Mysteries, etc.

Therefore, FAMILY is not a Genre’ , FAMILY is  a market segment with one commonality… they love to watch Comedies, Dramas, Action-Adventures, Mysteries, etc.,  but with one distinction… they demand films that reflect their values and tastes.

Dove has been studying the values and tastes of this market for 22 years which makes us a unique resource for any filmmaker…especially one who is looking to appeal to the FAMILY audience.

  1. We’ve reviewed over 9,000 movies and DVDs.
  2. We’ve awarded the Dove Seal to movies in nearly every genre’ and most ratings categories.
  3. We also worked with the Christian Retail Association to develop a special series of Dove Seals that are awarded to movies that are FAITH FRIENDLY and FAITH-BASED.
  4. Our constituents appreciate the fact that, unlike the MPAA movie ratings, DOVE standards never change.

In our latest study, we added a special section measuring the profits of an average Dove-approved movie with all other non-approved titles. Average Profit Dove-Approved vs. Non Dove-Approved

The results showed that:

  • Looking at all major releases between 2005 and 2009, the average Dove-approved movie was 250% more profitable than non-Dove titles released during the same period.
  • The average Dove-approved PG movie was nearly 3 times more profitable than non-Dove approved PG movies
  • The average Dove-approved PG-13 movie was twice as profitable as non-Dove approved PG-13 movies.

That leads us to the next step. Hollywood needs to ask, “Where do we go from here?”


“Each of us in Hollywood has the opportunity to assume the responsibility for creating films that elevate rather than denigrate, that shed light rather than dwell in darkness, that aim for the highest common good rather than the lowest.”

One might think these immortal words came from someone like Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell. But they were actually spoken by ultimate Hollywood insider, Jeffrey Katzenberg, co-founder of DreamWorks, SKG.

The Dove Foundation is joined by several other national organizations, each of which may have slightly different approaches, but all share one thing in common….we’d all like to see more movies like those described by Mr. Katzenberg.

We are seeing a growing number of filmmakers and studio executives reaching out to the largest and more loyal market segment in entertainment…tens of millions of people hungry for high quality entertainment that matches their tastes and sensibilities.

Download the Dove Foundation’s Film Profitability Study of 2012

Printed Copies of the Study are Available for a Small Donation.  Please call (616) 454-5021